Village Day a HUGE success!

WOW! Village day went beyond all expectations! We sold out of 48 pounds of Brisket in the first hour and by the end of the second hour had gone through all 15 racks of ribs!

I want to thank all who helped – my daughter Maria and her friend Ali. My nieces Erin and Jenn (my social media department), Tony D. for sharing his knowledge, and my wife, who’s inspiration brought me to yesterday.

The Countdown has begun!

We are so excited!  Nonantum Village Day is less than a week away!  Make sure to stop by our booth and get a taste of our famous Bisket and Ribs.  If you like what you taste, don’t forget to bring some of my rubs home with you!

See you at Coletti-Magni Park on Watertown Street in Nonantum (The Lake) 11:30 – 3 o’clock.  The weather is supposed to be perfect so come down and support your local community!

Wouldn’t ya like to know Wood? Wood ya?

Ok, so I took the entire winter off from BBQ  (I know, can you believe it!) and I am finally out of my Vitamin D deficient seasonal depression.  Why you ask?  BBQ Season is back here in the Northeast!    BOOYA!

To get us smokin’ again, I wanted to take on a subject dear to my heart.  Wood!

For BBQ specifically (ahem, not what some of you thought, eh?)  Anywho, BBQ is all about heat control and flavor pushed to the max.  Different wood combinations and usages are great ways to pump up the flavor volume without the need for sauces.  Sauces can always be added earlier or later (there are no wrong answers here) but wood gives something magical to BBQ.

I love the smoke flavor imparted by wood in all my BBQ’d foods.  My favorite for chicken is using lump hickory dry with wet apple chips during the later parts of cooking.  I soak the apple chips in water with ~ cup of bourbon added for a little extra sweetness.

Is the bourbon really necessary?   No – you could use apple juice or just plain water.  I just like the way it smells when cooking and the extra moistness in my BBQ’d meat.  Maybe I even take a sip or two during the smoking’ process…maybe.

Prep Note – Cover your wet smoking wood completely with liquid and let set 15-20 minutes to ensure moisture penetration.    Use only small amounts of wet wood at a time so you don’t kill your fire and temperature.  My rule is when the temp is getting too high – use the wet chips to cool it down rather than the dampers – more flavor and more fun!

As we go thru the summer, I’ll continue to post recipes, tirades and general observations about different wood combinations…like the big question if wet wood is even necessary for good smoked BBQ…does Mesquite count as a wood flavoring and much, much more.

The Don has a bunch of great tips and tricks on this topic so stay tuned.

Remember that whatever you do is going to be great!    Try different combinations and have fun.  It’s BBQ for goodness sake.

Now get out there and smoke em’!

Selling my Wares

I’m beginning to get excited about Nonantum Village Day on Sunday day June 3rd!

The BBQ Don will be there in all his glory selling my succulent Brisket and juicy Baby Back Ribs (along with some surprise sides of course)!

Come by my booth and say Hi and sample my wares.

The event  takes place at Coletti-Magni Park in Nonantum (a.k.a The Lake)  Coletti-Magni Park, 386-392 Watertown St, Newton, MA 02458

Apple & Sausage Dressing with Sage

Here is my delicious and easy apple/sausage dressing (it’s stuffing only if cooked inside the roast or bird). Make this with my Crown Roast of Pork and your taste budds will be doing their happy dance!!

For up to 10 people

2 pounds sausage meat (w/o fennel if possible)
1 loaf day old bread (Italian cibata or French baguette)
2-3 apples (cored and cut into 1″ pieces – do not peel)
4-5 stalks celery (chopped)
1 large onion diced
sage (dry ok)
Kosher salt
Butcher pepper
4 cloves garlic smashed and roughly chopped
1/4 cup Calvados
Chicken stock as needed

Cut bread into 1″ squares, arrange on cookie sheet and bake in 350 degree oven for 5 minutes
Pour a “2 count” of EVOO into a large skillet and heat over a high flame for 1 minute, lower heat to medium and add onion and garlic, saute until onion is limp. Remove onion and garlic and set aside. In same pan add the sausage and cook until brown. Remove and set aside. Place celery, apples, thyme, and sage into the sausage drippings and cook until the apples sweat, add the Calvados and cook until all the liquid is rendered, mixing constantly. Salt and pepper to taste. Add sausage, onion, garlic and bread and mash ingredients together, adding chicken stock to moisten as needed a quarter cup at a time. Taste the mixture and add salt and pepper as needed. Let cook for about 10 minutes. Remove from head and place in a bowl and set aside. Once your roast is done, spoon the dressing onto the top of the crown and present prior to slicing the roast for serving.

Pork Crown Roast with Apple & Sausage Dressing

Up here in the Northeast, once the first snow flies and the temps drop down to the 20s even the most enthusiastic BBQer needs to retire the smoker for the winter and bring the cooking inside.  That’s exactly what I’ve done.  I love “conventional” cookery almost as much as smoking.  Winter is the perfect season for all those slow cooked delicacies – roasts, braised short ribs (YUM), stews, and soups!

This next recipe is perfect for Christmas or New Years day.  If you have never had a crown roast of pork, you have been missing something extraordinary!

I made this for Christmas day along with my apple and sage dressing and Calvados gravy.  Finish it off with some Brussel sprouts and it don’t get much better!

I have posted all three recipes for you to try!  Buon Appetito!


Serves 12-14

1 – 10-12 pound pork rib roast (12-14 ribs) – have your butcher tie it in a crown and French the ribs, saves time and nine times out of ten, the butcher does a better job

1-2 TBS dry sage (+/- 30 leaves fresh)

4-5 cloves garlic

1 TBS dry rosemary (this is one of the few herbs that is more fragrant dry than fresh)


Kosher salt

Butcher pepper

Tin foil cut into 2″x4″ strips (12-14 pieces depending on the number of ribs in the roast)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees – adjusting rack to lower 1/3 of oven so roast will fit

Place roast in center of a medium roasting pan (12×24)

Dry brine your roast by evenly covering all the surface with Kosher salt

Do the same with the Butcher pepper to taste

Place sage, rosemary, garlic in your food processor and pulse until the mixture creates a dry paste

Drizzle EVOO into your food processor while continuing to pulse mixture – when the mixture is the consistency of honey stop adding EVOO

Take the sage and garlic paste and liberally apply it to all exposed surfaces of your crown roast.

Take the strips of tin foil and cover the exposed bone at the end of each chop (this keeps the bones from burning during initial cooking)

Place roast in the preheated oven and cook for 1 hour and 45 minutes (until the temperature of the roast near the bone is 140 degrees

At this point, remove the tin foil from the bones and reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees

Let the roast cook another 30 – 45 minutes (until the temperature of the roast is 150 degrees near the bone)

Remove from oven and allow to rest for 30 minutes (covered with a towel or tin foil to keep in heat and moisture)

MAKING THE GRAVY (you can start this during the last 30 minutes of cooking and complete is while the roast is resting)

Prep time +/- 40 minutes
3 apples – peeled and cored
Juice of 1 orange
3 carrots
4-5 stalks celery
5 cloves garlic (crushed)
1 onion – sliced thin
1 cup Calvados (French apple brandy – don’t skimp on the price, quality varies widely according to price so buy the bet you can afford)
4 cups chicken stock

Combine first 5 ingredients in your food processor and pulse until you have made a mash.  Add ½ cup of EVOO and continue to pulse.

Put roasting pan (with drippings) over medium heat and drizzle a 2 count of EVOO into the pan.  Add the crushed garlic and onions into the pan and cook for about 5-7 minutes. **This might be a good time to check your roast and remove it if ready.

Remove the garlic and onion from the pan and discard.

Add the mash into the pan and cook well for about 10 – 15 minutes.  Add extra EVOO if/as necessary.  Once the mash has softened into a paste, add the Calvados.  Cook off the alcohol (about 10 minutes).  Sprinkle a layer of flour over the surface of the pan and mix in with a whisk, making sure there are no lumps.  Add chicken stock and increase temperature to high bringing mixture to a boil then return to medium (add more flour if necessary but the gravy should not be too thinks).  Cook for another 5 – 7 minutes to reduce liquid.  Remove from heat and strain through a sieve to remove most of the mash – push some of the mash through to naturally thicken the gravy.

The Great Smoke Fest – Part 1 (video included)


You may remember that back around the end of October I announce that I was getting together with another BBQ enthusiasts, Lance, and we would be smoking our asses off in the following month.  Well, right around the middle of November, we did just that!  Along with some of our good friends, and with the help of some Michter’s Rye and good ‘ol Jack Daniels, we held our first annual Great Smoke Fest!  The menu consisted of smoked a brisket, barbecue ribs, barbecue chicken, smoked salmon (VERY yummy), AND we even tried our hand at jerky (while the jerky was very good, it wasn’t Don quality.  We’ve learned from our mistakes and our next batch of jerky will be outrageous, we promise).

We recorded about 4 hours of video, so editing was key.  I think you will enjoy what we’ve come up with.  I want to thank Lance for bringing his video setup and for his outstanding editing job, he’s a pro.  Anyone who can make me look AND sound good on video is worth their weight in brisket!

All the recipes used during this session can be found on my blog.

Here is part 1 of the Great Smoke Fest – prepping the brisket.  We hope you enjoy watching these videos as much as we did making them!